Cheese with seafood is a NO-NO?

Joined Jul 28, 2006
Okay, I've heard a number of times now on the food network, that pairing seafood and cheese is not acceptable. (and I will agree that there are some cheeses that would not be good---but come on---all cheeses?). I want to know whose rule is this, and why? I have a number of recipes for sauces with cheese, which I've served with seafood dishes. And salmon mousse often has cream cheese. No one has complained yet. What is this stupid rule all about? Is it that just because one food authority doesn't like the combination, it has to be wrong for everyone? And by the way, I don't care if the experts say it's wrong---I'm still gonna do it as long as everyone in my circle of influence likes it. :look:


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
My understanding is it comes from Italian cuisine. But I like parmesan on shrimp and a few other fishy things.

Cream cheese of course is good with a lot of seafood.
Joined Apr 21, 2009
i think it is more that so many seafoods have a delicate flavor and texture, while cheese tends to be more thick and heavy with and strong flavor, which can overwhelm seafood.

A couple years ago lobster macaroni and cheese was popular in New York, but never really took off. Despite it's popularity, every review I ever saw said the lobster got lost in the heavy cheese sauce, besides the fact that it just sounds gross. On the other hand, a good lox and cream cheese bagel is awesome. Every food rule seems to have a "but" or "except" in it somewhere.

It would appear that cheese is just harder to put with seafood than with meat or poultry; it 's hard to think of a way to combine gorgonzola with fish!
Joined Dec 4, 2009
Hokey smokes! I just had shrimp and scallop enchiladas today at Dos Corallitos. REALLY. And what am I going to do with my seafood lasgana with gruyere recipe? Do I tell everyone who said they loved it that they are radicals?

Tuna melts? Shrimp alfredo? Anchovies on a cheesey pizza?

I suppose it's like pairing any other foods. Some strong foods overwhelm delicate foods. Choose your cheese, choose your coquille.

Joined Sep 5, 2008
My wife makes an excellent sandwich: baguette, cream cheese, smoked salmon, and avocado slices marinated in lemon and black pepper. I love it!
Joined Nov 5, 2007
There's something I haven't made in a while, will have to put it on my 'to eat soon' list. Sauce mornay on poached halibut? That will never happen!

The one dish I take to parties that disappears the fastest is my seafood quiche. Lots of shrimp, scallops, crab, sometimes lobster, sometimes octopus, with gruyere and parm.

Joined Jul 28, 2006
Thanks everyone! I can tell by your wonderful replies that the "food snobs" must be all wet. I hope they check in here occasionally to see what real people want to eat! :thumb:


Joined Dec 14, 2006
What about those crab-stuffed mushroom caps with cheese melted on them? Inelegant but quite tasty.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
One thing to keep in mind, Grace, is that if we are to believe the Food Network, the only worthwhile ethnic food is Italian. And among Italians that is pretty much a rule; no cheese with fish.

Once you broaden out to other cuisines, however, you find all sorts of ways that cheese is mixed with fish and seafood. And the fact is (but say it softly) there even are exceptions in Italy.

I'd also suggest that people who present that as a hard and fast rule somehow don't think of cream cheese as cheese. So things like a bagel with a smear and lox; and crab rangoon, etc., just don't count as seafood and cheese.

On the flip side, I reckon they don't consider scallops to be seafood, cuz there's a whole array of dishes that pair scallops with various cheeses.

At base, there are only two food pairings: those you like, and those you don't like. And if the ones you like violate somebody's rule, that somebody doesn't have to eat them. But don't let it stop you.
Joined Aug 13, 2006
Oh yes, here they will often look like they;re going to cut off your hand if you ask for cheese with your fish pasta.
Highly irregular!
And yet, recently i ate in a really good calabrese fish restaurant with a great pasta with fish and cheese, and in another sicilian restaurant there were fish-cheese pastas.

There are plenty of very flavorful fish that can certainly withstand even strong cheeses (the sicilian one was with pecorino!) But many Italians tend to live entirely in their region and anyway they just can be very snobby about "their" way of eating. They really can;t conceive of any other and many will travel with half their luggage allowance in food! Canned tuna! stuff like that. Not because they miss it but because they don;t think anyone else can cook. I wouldn;t mind the apologetic attitude some americans have that they just like meat and potatoes. They present their food prejudices as if there were "correct" tastes and bad ones and of course their personal preferences are the correct ones. And of course, since the cuisine is exceptionally good, they get away with it and others, from other cultural traditions can become even more rigid about it than anyone here, and go on tv and flaunt their superior "knowledge". When someone needs an excuse to look down on someone, maybe they are insecure themselves.

It took me YEARS to get up the courage to order a cappuccino after a meal ("What! ruin a good meal with MILK at the end? Oh yuck! what a boor!" but I'm much older now and couldn;t care less what they think.
Joined Jan 2, 2007
My tuna linguine is a firm favourite in my house and we all sprinkle parm on it.

If it tastes good, it's not wrong!
Joined Oct 19, 2009
Actually from a scientific point of view (which is mostly my approach to food) cheese and seafood makes ALOT of sense; think about the sense of taste; savoury.

Savoury is usually a breakdown of amino acids and fatty acids; seafood is VERY savoury; as the amino acids are already present in the fish's muscle fibres to balance the absorbtion of minerals through the salinity of the water.
Cheeses contain various cultures of lactic-acid bacteria that very slowly break down the fats into short-chain fatty acids and release amino acids. Therefore the older the cheese the better they'll match (and rennet split cheeses will match much better than fresh or acidified cheeses).

You also have the sense of savoury in tomatoes, mushrooms, steak, sea weed...etc...

Try a layer of salt-roasted tomatoes with your scallops or your shrimp, and grated mushroom with a well-aged cheese and see how well they all match.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Oh gosh! Whatever are we gonna do with all that Mornay sauce? :peace:
Joined Jan 27, 2010
Yes cheese is not cosnidered to be used with fish.
However, you can use "parmigiano" to "mantecare" a risotto.
This might be the only accepted cheese to go with fish.
Now there is a new tendency, not to use parimigiano on tomato sauce.
Joined Feb 1, 2010
Seems like there are many exceptions to the rule. At my wife's bar and grill, they have a seafood quesadilla that is really tasty.
Joined Apr 16, 2006
The "no cheese with seafood" rule was one of those I decided to ignore as soon as I heard it...
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